BOONE, N.C. — Despite tight coverage in the end zone, senior receiver and new scholarship recipient Brad Absher came down with a contested catch to score a touchdown.
“He earned that scholarship,” an Appalachian State teammate shouted from the sideline.
Moments later, safety Josh Thomas picked off a pass at the goal line and sprinted toward the opposite end zone.
The red zone session, much like every segment of App State’s 120-play scrimmage Saturday, featured highlights for both the Mountaineers’ offense and defense. Possessions in the red zone and close to the goal line capped team workout No. 8 of preseason camp.
“There were some good plays made — good, long runs on offense and many good turnovers made by the defense,” App State head coach Scott Satterfield said. “That’s what you like to see, particularly down in the red zone on defense. There were some really good individual plays, and you’re looking for 11 guys on each side to play as one.”
Some of the defensive highlights came from Thomas, who continued a strong camp with two red zone interceptions. Ryan Huff added one, as well, and linebacker Trey Cobb intercepted a pass tipped by a defensive lineman early in the scrimmage. Outside linebacker Akeem Davis-Gaither and cornerback Tae Hayes had sacks in the early going, while Austin Exford and George Blackstock recovered fumbles.
Offensively, the running backs performed well behind the new-look offensive line and quarterback Zac Thomas spread the ball around to Malik Williams, Corey Sutton and several other receivers. Running back Jalin Moore had several double-digit gains early on, and Darrynton Evans rushed for a 65-yard touchdown on his first touch before gaining close to 30 yards on his next carry. Marcus Williams Jr. added a 60-yard run.
While Josh Thomas and Huff came away with the interceptions in the red zone session, there were scores with Absher, Malik Williams and Braden Collins catching accurate throws from Zac Thomas, Jacob Huesman and Jackson Gibbs. Mock Adams came down with a 50-50 ball on a long throw from Stephon Brown prior to that part of practice, and defensive end Chris Willis made a tackle for a safety with the offense backed up against its end zone.
App State’s special teams also had strong moments, as Xavier Subotch delivered punts of 59 yards, 54 yards and 47 yards (from his own end zone). Clayton Howell had a punt from midfield downed at the 1-yard line, and Chandler Staton made a 48-yard field goal.
“We threw a lot at them today,” Satterfield said. “You’re not game-planning. You’re just trying to go play ball. There’s a lot of good stuff on film to teach off.”